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Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George on the occasion of the Republic Day Flag Hoisting Ceremony at India House in Berne

Posted on: January 26, 2019 | Back | Print

Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George on the occasion of the Republic Day Flag Hoisting Ceremony at India House in Berne
January 26, 2019

Thank you every body. Let me thank all of you for coming in for the flag hoisting ceremony here at India House. 
On behalf of President of India and the Government of India, on behalf of my colleagues at the Embassy of India, on behalf of the 1.3 billion of our brothers and sisters in India, I once again wish you a very happy Republic day. 
Today, I am honoured to see the presence of so many of our brothers and sisters and friends of India here. I am happy to welcome Indian origin Member of Swiss Parliament Nik Gugger here. I see friends of India from all over Switzerland, Zurich, Basal, Baden, St Gallen, Geneva, Lausanne, Zug, Luzern and even from Ticino. Some of the seniors present here have been attending the Flag Hoisting ceremony in this premise for several decades without break. I also see many children in our midst who are beginning to learn the values and traditions of India. 
As our President said in his remarks last night, Republic Day is precious and every day in the life of the Republic is precious. Yet this year is a little extra special. This is a special year for several reasons, we celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, and we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the adoption of our Constitution. A constitution which guarantees us JUSTICE – social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation. 
In Switzerland, in 2018 we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Treaty of Friendship that we signed in 1948. We had several major visits and exchanges including that of Prime Minister to Switzerland and that of Swiss Foreign Minister to India. During this year, we endeavoured to reach out to almost all Cantons and major cities of this beautiful country. I am happy to report that the Indian Cultural Network (ICN) and Indian Professionals Network (IPN), the two main vehicles of activities that the Embassy we set up last year, are actively engaged in promoting Indian interest in Switzerland. We work very closely with several Swiss entities and organisations all over Switzerland and Lichtenstein and The Holy See. I am happy that we were able to start regular consular services in Zurich, on weekends. This was a long standing request from our community in Zurich. I look forward to more suggestions and proposals. 
At the Embassy we are currently working to implement a concrete Action Plan that emerged out of a comprehensive Joint Statement that India and Switzerland signed in August 2017 envisaging ‘A Longstanding Dynamic Partnership’, focusing on a wide range of issues including trade and investment, finance and tax matters, sectoral cooperation in clean technology, skill development and capacity building, scientific cooperation and cyber cooperation, railways, health, wellness and tourism cooperation, synergy at UN and multilateral fora, cooperation in multilateral export control regimes, the list is comprehensive. We are committed to take our bilateral relations forward. 
I am thankful to the support that I get from the Swiss authorities and members of Indian diaspora in taking our dynamic partnership with Switzerland forward. I see tremendous opportunities in further promoting our relationship, we need to do more in promoting our commercial and economic relationship, and our social and cultural engagement at all levels, including with students and educational institutions all over Switzerland. We need to reach out to more cities and towns and more institutions and individuals. And we will do that in coming days and months.  
In this regard, I am happy to note that this year Government of India has honoured Dr. Rajendra Kumar Joshi, a senior member of Indian diaspora with the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award. He has contributed immensely including by setting up Bhartiya Skill Development University in Jaipur. 
As you are aware, Mahatma Gandhi had visited Switzerland in 1931. The makes the celebrations of his 150th birth anniversary of special significance in Switzerland. This week we have planned two major events in Berne. On January 28, we have a special event to commemorate the contributions of Mahatma Gandhi; on January 30 in collaboration with the Universal Postal Union, which is part of the United Nation, we are organising a philately exhibition with hundreds of stamps on Mahatma Gandhi. I invite you to all join us in the celebrations. This year we are also celebrating the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanakji.  
I invite all of you to participate in these events. I also invite you to share your views and ideas with us. Together let us celebrate India in Switzerland. Please do visit our website and also keep in touch through Facebook and Twitter.
Thank you very much.